You’ve decided that becoming a phlebotomist is the right career path for you. This is a great idea as these professionals play a key role in helping health teams get the information they need to diagnosis patient health issues.

Not only will you have a rewarding career, but also one that pays well! (NOTE: If you want more information on salary, benefits and job prospects, you can learn more here on our detailed career guide as a phlebotomy technician.)

But determining your career path is only half of the proverbial battle; getting certified is the other half. But which certification should get? CPT? PTC?

Don’t worry, we’ll walk you through each so you can make the best decision for you.  But we’ll state up top here that there is nothing to stress about. The real thing to focus on is enrolling in a good certification training program, because that is what will get you prepared for certification, no matter if you decide to go CPT or PTC.

We’re also going to share some fantastic certification programs that are flexible and affordable for adult students, so be sure to read this article all the way through to the end.

Okay, let’s dive in…

Why is Certification Important?

There are certain industries that require their workforces to meet incredibly high standards, and certainly the healthcare industry is at the top of that list.

Many states require phlebotomists to obtain certification to prove they have met the nationally recognized measure of competency.

Even in those states that don’t require certification, many employees prefer to hire candidates who have been certified as these candidates have taken the time to obtain the necessary credentials. By employing certified healthcare workers, healthcare organizations ensure overall patient safety and satisfaction.

Here’s another reason to consider becoming certified, even if your particular state doesn’t require it: It will help you stand out from other candidates when it comes time to landing a job. While the Bureau of Labor Statistics has reported that employment of phlebotomists is expected to grow by 17 percent from 2019 to 2029, which is far faster than the national average for all occupations and means a lot of new jobs created, you can’t assume there won’t be an influx of new graduates all vying for the same positions. Especially in your local area. Getting certified is how you can make sure you stand apart from other candidates.


The bottom line is, certified phlebotomists have better job prospects, greater job security and typically command higher pay!

So now let’s look at your two certification options.

CPT Certification

What does CPT stand for?

CPT stands for Certified Phlebotomy Technician.

What is the CPT certification?

Today’s hospitals, laboratories and other healthcare organizations are seeing an increasing demand for phlebotomists. And a majority of these employers will require their hires to hold certification. CPT certification shows prospective employers that you have obtained the credentials that set you apart from other job applicants. As more employers begin to require phlebotomy certifications, a CPT will definitely help you improve your marketability in a growing and exciting field.

Who offers CPT? The National Healthcareer Association

Founded in 1998, the National HealthCareer Association has prepared and awarded over 750,000 certifications to healthcare students and professionals, providing them with nationally recognized measurements of competency.

At the heart of NHA’s mission is a desire to improve healthcare through greater competency and empower students to access a better future. The organization works tirelessly to fulfill its mission through education, advocacy and certification, leading to better health outcomes for patients and better career prospects for students.

NHA also plays an integral role within the industry, engaging with both regulatory and legislative bodies to promote certification for the industry and for the people working in it. Their work has elevated and positively impacted the lives of patients and those who work in allied health.

NHA certification exams are accredited by the National Commission for Certifying Agencies (NCCA) and updated regularly. This ensures that students always obtain the most job-relevant knowledge and skills.

The CPT Exam

Students interested in taking the CPT exam will take it either at their school or at a nearby PSI testing center. You will be required to bring valid ID with you and two pencils.

You will be given 2 hours to complete the 100 questions and 20 pretest questions.

What is the passing score for the CPT exam?

To pass the CPT exam, you will need a scaled score of 390 (NHA score scale: 200-500).

How much does the CPT exam cost?

The cost to take the exam is $105. Many certification training programs, including the ones we recommend, include a voucher to cover this expense.

What topics will the exam cover?

The CPT exam will cover a variety of topics, including:

  • Safety and Compliance
  • Patient Preparation
  • Routine Blood Collection
  • Special Collections
  • Processing

Don’t worry, you’ll learn about all of this in your training program even if you have no prior experience! 🙂

What are the requirements to sit for the CPT exam?

You must have a high school diploma or equivalent to sit for the CPT exam. In addition, you will need to:

  • Complete a training program
  • Complete a registered apprentice program (We’ll talk about how to easily get an externship so you can get some much-needed experience in just a bit)
  • Have one year of supervised work experience within the past three years and provide evidence that you’ve performed a minimum of 30 venipunctures and 10 capillary sticks.

PTC Certification

What Does PTC stand for?

Phlebotomy Technician Certification.

What is the PTC Certification?

PTC certification is one way phlebotomy tech candidates can improve their chances of landing a great job in an increasingly competitive field. By getting a passing grade on the exam, you show prospective employers that you have gained the necessary credentials to be a trusted member of their allied health team. PTC certification is a great way to set yourself apart from other candidates and land a great paying job AND have job security.

Who offers PTC? The American Medical Certification Association (AMCA)

Established in 2010, the American Medical Certification Association (AMCA) has a mission of helping the allied healthcare industry by providing comprehensive certification exams that validate the knowledge needed in the field. The organization actively participates in the industry to serve as a support network to healthcare professionals.

The AMCA, whose certification board uses subject matter experts (SMEs) to assist in developing their exams and preparatory materials, is nationally approved and recognized as a certification organization in all 50 states.

The PCT Exam

Similar to the CPT exam, students interested in the PTC exam will take it either at their school or at a nearby PSI testing center. You will be required to bring valid ID with you and two pencils.

Students will have 2 hours to complete a series of 100s on phlebotomy.

How Much Does the Exam Cost?

The PTC exam costs $109 and this fee includes study materials. But remember, many programs will cover the cost of your exam. Be sure to keep reading because in just a moment, we’re going to introduce you to some affordable and flexible certification programs that can help put you on the path of this exciting and rewarding career.

Topics covered on the PTC exam

Topics on the CPT exam will include the following:

  • Performing venipunctures
  • Performing capillary draws
  • Transporting specimens to the laboratory
  • Interacting with patients in a professional manner
  • Respecting a patient’s rights

Again, your training program should cover all of these things to make sure you’re prepared!

Requirements to sit for the PTC exam

Each state will have different requirements to sit for this exam. For instance, the state of Louisiana requires proof of 100 venipuncture and 25 capillary sticks in order to be eligible to sit for the exam. Please refer to your state’s Board of Medical Examiners website to determine what will be required.

Choosing the Right Certification Training Program

So let’s recap a little bit. We’ve looked at the two main certifications, CPT and PTC, and learned about the organizations that offer each. While the NHA (the one that offers the CPT certification) has been around longer, the AMCA, the organization that offers the PTC certification, makes a point of using subject matter experts for developing their exam and study materials. Both tests primarily cover the same topics, both last 2 hours, and both cost roughly the same amount, give or take a few dollars.

So which certification should you choose??

There’s actually a much more important question to ask yourself right now.. what makes a good certification training program?

After all, it is your training program that will prepare you to sit for the certification exam, so really your first question should be: which program is the right one?

Well, in our experience, there are a few key things that make a certification program worthy of your time and money:

The Right Preparation

The right training will prepare you for ANY certification exam, whether it’s the CPT or PTC.

In other words, you don’t need to worry about which certification is best. Your first step right now is to gain the knowledge by choosing the right training program, and that will help you pass any test and become a certified phlebotomist.  Take our free quiz to see what program perks you could qualify for:

Take the Quiz! >

How Do I Choose a Phlebotomy Tech Program?

We can help.  To find the right program:

Choose an Authorized School

There are many unauthorized websites out there with programs and training are not approved.

Online Courses

No matter how great a training program is, if it doesn’t work with a busy adult’s schedule, then it isn’t worth much. An online program will allow you to study when it is most convenient for you and in the comfort of your own home.

It’s Affordable

We’ve seen phlebotomy training programs offered through some universities that cost tens of thousands of dollars! That’s just not feasible for many adults who have family and other financial responsibilities. We’ve gone ahead and found certification programs that are incredibly affordable.

Many of the schools we’ve partnered with offer discounts and low monthly payment plansTake the free quiz to see if you could qualify!

Books Should be Included!

Textbooks can get really expensive. The right program includes books in the cost of the program.

They Offer an Externship

You just read that to sit for examination, you’ll need some experience under your belt. The right program includes externship placement so you can get this critical experience!

Next Steps to Become a Phlebotomy Technician wants to help adult students get an affordable education that will set them up for a rewarding and lucrative career.

That’s why we’ve partnered with schools that meet ALL of this criteria.

Take a few moments to take our quiz to connect with the right certification program that matches your career goals and life situation.

All it takes a five minutes and you could be on your way to a rewarding and exciting career as a Phlebotomy Tech!

Take the Quiz! >


About the Author
Grant founded with a purpose-driven mission: make college accessible and affordable for everyone. After graduating college with an overwhelming amount of debt, he was determined to change how students embark on their education. He's a frequent speaker and author in higher education, and has been featured in Forbes, Bloomberg Businessweek, Business Insider, American Express, AOL, MSN, Thrive Global, Reader's Digest, Inside Higher Ed, Evolllution, EducationDive, and nearly 100 radio shows and podcasts.